D's Blog

Delilah’s Visionary Belly Dance Retreat

April 2-9 2010

Location: Kalani Resort

Theme: Tribal-Hula-Fusion


Special Guests: Amy Sigil director of Unmata Sacramento, CA,

Dahlia from Seattle, WA

Musician: Erik Brown,

Your Host: Delilah

Hawaii Belly Dance Retreat, Easter Group 2010

Hawaii Belly Dance Retreat, Easter Group 2010

Letters from the Edge of the Volcano

Dear Dancers,


Every one of our retreats since 1991 have been unique and an in depth explorations into the art of belly dance. They all occupy special places in my memories and my heart. This frank day-to-day journal is a window into one such retreat. It is completely different from the theme and energy we explored 3 months ago in January with the Neighborhood Temple Priestesses. Thats the idea. To keep exploring, tasting, learning and to occupy different perspectives in our dance. To keep the art of it, alive from within.

Letter #1

We arrived in paradise on Friday afternoon. It’s Monday as I begin to write.

The retreat is going very well so far. We did 8 hours of full out dance on the first day! Not a lot of talking either. We put our efforts to learning a bunch of tribal improv body vocabulary first off, and were reduced to total sweat and minds of mush by end of Saturday night. Of course not everyone did all of it. After a certain point some of us had to sit and watch. Watching is just as important mind you, and often more important because while you are constantly moving, you often miss the totality of the movement and the underlying attitude that goes with it.

We had 2 Island dancers from the town of Hilo join us for just Saturday. Knowing this ahead of time, I rearranged the class schedule to give them a real bang for their buck since they could only join us for one day; (Sherry and Denise). We enjoyed connecting with them very much. I wish they could have stayed for the entire retreat because it just kept getting better. Next time!

We knew this retreat would be very challenging compared to other retreats. We were calling it “Unmata Boot Camp”. Of course that’s only if you choose to do everything we were offering. We always tell dancers they don’t have to do everything. On this particular session we were offering a large variety of belly dance classes. Each year we have dancers come who approach our retreats differently. Some want to dance 24/7 and others want to dance and relax by the pool or beach half the day. This retreat availed a special opportunity to really grok tribal styles in an accelerated few days if you had the energy. We learn and retain by daily doses, repetition and reinforcements. A retreat is a perfect vessel for this kind of work. When we retreat, we are cut away from usual life obligations, going into a different environment, where we can devout body and soul to our dance. Not like a workshop in the city.

I am learning a lot. I probably am not going to emerge a ” Tribal Girl” but I am learning signature moves and gaining a good appreciation for the different styles. It’s really great. I like the different way of moving and being in my body for a change. I think we all should experience different styles to stay fully engaged with dance and avoid becoming stale.

Crazy as it sounds tribal is not all we are doing either. Dahlia is teaching Egyptian and Folkloric, and I’m adding Power Belly and taking care of the Easter Sunday ritual element with a little dose of NTP style…

We are dreaming dance as we listen to the jungle sounds. We can hear the roar of the surf and either the rattle of hard tropical rain on the roof or an ubiquitous hiss that fills the air with spray. The Hawaiians have so many names for the different kinds of rain. My cottage is circled with open screened windows. It’s like we are sleeping under a banyon tree in the jungle. I lay listening to the bush and sway of palm frowns like slow hula hips in the night, partnered with the aftermath of rain drops plopping on jurassic park-sized leaves in the trees. Oh, and frogs. Lots of frogs singing “boo peep, boo peep!”


We had an anonymous donor make a gift of “TWO” week-long scholarship spots to out retreat this year! Wow! It happened every once in a while. It really is a testimony to the good work we do each year. It makes me proud. Women see, feel and know that the experience is so beneficial. They are inspired to GIFT other women! This is a powerful thing . . . . Mahalo. I love this universe.

It was up to me to choose who????

It was not easy, and it was last-minute so it had to be some one who could get off work and buy a plane ticket. I finally decided to choose 2 women who really wanted to come but couldn’t because of finances, would try their hardest, are very supportive of VDP, show the most potential in learning fast, and retaining concepts and choreography and then can bring it back to our studio. If it had been a different theme I would have chosen very differently. I knew this retreat would be very, very challenging.

More later, maybe, signing off for now. . .


Letter #2

Back again for more. . .

I forgot to mention, on the first day we did all that Tribal, we also did our first “Basics of Egyptian Styling” with Dahlia, a “Power Belly” with me and Erik, and I taught a couple moving meditations for us to greet the sunrise with on Easter morning. Ha! Most slept well after all this and then rose early. It’s the style of living in Hawaii, to go to bed early and wake up early. You find lots of people up at 6 AM walking the dog, jogging, swimming, and doing yoga.

Easter Sunday

We woke up a little before the sunrise and met at what they call ” The Point”.  It’s just across the street from the Kalani, on the one and a half lane jungle road that snakes along this edge of the South East side of the island. It’s a tranquil view spot with a fire pit and a meditation bench. It over looks the crashing surf and wide open ocean. Sometimes you can even see volcano glow as it pours into the ocean further South of us. But not now. Today it’s perfect for witnessing the moment of sunrise. The fire pit still had burning embers from the night before where some one must have enjoyed this post under the stars. It was all quiet, fairly still, the moist morning was colored by a thick gray light, the way mornings start out. I was the first to arrive. I wore a simple yet elegant, easy-to-pack, floor length Goddess gown.  I just love to wear them. They ad such grace to one’s day. They take me back to ancient origins. Remember when you were small and played dress up? It takes you to the creative place in your imagination and thats why I think a lot of women are attracted to belly dance.

I put a pink flower in my hair. There was no need for a sweater. The temperature was absolutely perfect even on the bluff in these early hours. It felt a bit surreall. The rest of the dancers showed up, two by two. I lead our NTP grounding and centering movement meditation. It gives us a little stretch and sends loving good will to all the dancers of the world in 4 separate directions.  Many dancers have done this with me all over the world at different events. Now it feels more powerful than ever before. Together we stood facing the East and watched as the golden egg of the sun was birthed, crowning face first through the clouds on the horizon. A new day was born. OMG, so beautiful.

After this we all hung around and talked about the different ways we have celebrated Easter Sunday throughout our lives; the rituals of Easter baskets, church services, family dinners, frilly dresses and bonnets, Easter egg decorating with those little store bought dye kits, chocolate and jelly bean eggs and Easter egg hunts.  (My goddess gown took the place of the frilly dress ritual I guess.) One dancer shared a story from her past. In Montana no one liked to eat those over-boiled colored eggs, so they got out their guns and ritually used them for target practice . . . . . . This was our 4th retreat we have done at Easter time in Hawaii. It’s really a perfect time to go be with your sister dancers. Away from the gunfire and religious fanatics. They all agreed today would stand out as a very in-tune Easter to remember for a long time to come.

Speaking of eggs. After breakfast everyone got a gift from the Easter Luna Hare. It was a plastic egg with a pair of uterus and ovary logo Power Belly panties tucked inside! Perfect Easter gift. We took a group photo with us all wearing Power Belly logo shirts and Amy and Dahlia posed wearing the panties over their black yoga pants. Too hysterical for words. OMG! Can’t wait to see the pictures!

It was also another big day of dance. We sure started early. We were happy to note our minds were retaining better today. Good food, sleep, clean air and the lack of cell phone reception, TV’s and the constant emailing we normally do is amazing for the dancer’s brain!

As you see I am keeping a short journal and I started it on day 4 looking back when my body has been tossed around – kind of like the rocks and sand in the frothy blue green surf out there. I feel clean.


If you have met her, you know what an exceptional women she is. She is very intensely engaged with her dance. It’s an addiction, she will admit. She prefers to dance every minute of the day. Personally she has the the ability to be very present with everyone she is with, in a way that makes each of us each feel very special. It must also be an addiction. Charisma is a powerful gift to be given. We would all probably follow her anywhere. We each become intoxicated and addicted to her magic . . .


She lead a wonderful “Shimmy Madness” work out. She has a particular method for cultivating that perfect shimmy of hers. Dahlia’s years of childhood ballet give her a signature grace. Her preference to improve keeps her emotionally near her audience instead of off and reserved. To watch her every day like this is to imbibe a lovely balance in her every step.

In the afternoon we did some island exploring. I took a few adventurous ones to the near by steam vents; Bring a bathing suit, towel and bug spray. Dahlia, Bevin, Amy, Bella and Erik and I went. We drove for 15 minutes and pulled off the road. I lead the merry band of trusting souls down a slippery slope, then down a narrow path cut through the tall wet grass that gobbles us from each others sight if we advance 10 paces ahead. Wild orchids appear here and there in the weave of brush. I luckily remember the correct forks in the maze of grasses, mud, and rock formations. We arrived at a small, low cave opening. It was  a little bit bigger than the size of a large pizza tray. I begin getting out of my shorts and shirt and piling them on top of my towel. “Here it is”  I announce, “climb on in”.  They were a bit apprehensive, but since I guaranteed it would be worth it,  they complied to my prompting. In we squeezed through the opening, that to their welcomed surprise, opened into a larger spacious chamber with a natural sky light high above so it was pleasantly light inside. Wood boards had been set into the cave to create a comfortable seating arrangement. In a matter of moments we began to get licked clean by the hot breath of the Mother as the steam rose out of the earth. Everyone was amazed at this supreme natural wonder of the earth and were glad they came with me.

Others in our group trekked to the Volcano Park in Latrelle’s car and even managed to get lost so that they missed dinner, yikes! We got a little worried, but they came in all aglow from their adventure. They managed to find a restaurant out there somewhere on a Sunday night. Others in the group hung out at the beach and pool by day.

On our way back from the steam vents, we took a drive and went into the near by town of Pahoa to shop. We stopped at the shop called “Jungle Love” owned by a nice belly dancer (forgot her name, sorry).  She wasn’t in the shop so we missed her. Left a note. “Amy, Erik, Dahlia, Delilah, Bevin and Bella were here!”  After it cooled down we were back to dance. We are doing well with the pace of the different classes. Some are hard, some review and some are easy now.

Who is on this retreat?

We are a group of 12. Four of us are instructors. Most from Seattle this time. (That’s actually rare.) Tessa, Erin, Bevin, Bella Jovan, Carolyn, and then Cindy from Wisconsin via Arkansas, Latrelle from Texas and Tina from Chicago. It was easy to learn everyone’s name fast.

Again, the jungle is crazy at night! So many stars in the sky. The moon was full before we arrived and is getting smaller. It shows it’s face in the wee hours of the morning so the nights are mostly black. The night hours seems to be divided so that different animals get a chance to lead the chorus. They influence our dreams I’m sure; birds, frogs, crickets, creatures and falling branches and coconuts. We can hear the surf and the occasional night rain showers hitting the roof and trees. We have ear plugs if we want but I wouldn’t trade it for the world. Oh, and sometimes wild pigs can be heard walking around behind my cottage and making low grunting sounds.


We reminisced about some funny stories Katrina (of skin deep) told in the car the

year she came to my Hawaii Retreat in 2006. We are still laughing!!! We also laughed about Princess Farhana and Laura Rose who shared a cottage together at the  2009 retreat.  LR  did her famous MISS PIGGY routine in one of our shows. The wild pigs came and hung out at their cottage (knowing their was a famous pig celebrity sleeping there) and so Princess has affectionately named LR  “Pig” ever since. (Hope LR doesn’t get too mad about that story. It’s cute!)

Bye now. More, maybe later, again, if I get a chance . . .


Letter #3

April 5th, yesterday, was Amy Sigil’s Birthday! The weekend before we left Seattle we helped Princess Farhana celebrate her Birthday and also Erik’s! It’s a very special time to be with people on these ritual days of their lives.

For her birthday, we gifted Amy one of my special “Veil Therapy” experiences. Only Bella Jovan and I knew how to actually deliver a Veil Therapy session, (AKA Veil Blessings). However, they all were quick studies. Kind of wonderful to have the opportunity arise where Amy would get to experience my Veil Therapy sessions. Can’t imagine it coming up in the course of our regular interactions on the mainland. We used her kind of crazy hard-pressing music for our session. Erik picked it out just for her. The experience lasted about 25 minutes. She was touched intensely, she cried like a baby when we were done. Good cry, caring, intimate, moved deeply kind of cry.

(I’ll explain what VT is, some other day.)

So far the dancers have had 12 hours of Improvisational Tribal Style now. OMG! They are totally getting it! They are going to walk out of the other side of this retreat as Tribal know-it-alls! LOL. A couple of us are daunted by the quick change choreography but are learning stuff and picking up a lot of nuances and certainly gaining a full  understanding between the differences of A.T.S.,  I.T.S. and Tribal Fusion!

Amy says she is really digging the chance to teach this straight out. It’s a rare opportunity. Usually she just gets a couple-hour workshop in every city and so ends up teaching a tribal fusion combo. This is way different. That’s why I set this up! I knew this. I just wished I could have been able to make it more clear to other dancers so they could have taken advantage of this incredible opportunity. All teachers are in this boat when they just drop into a city to teach to a bunch of new dancers for a few hours. A retreat is different! We all get stretched – teachers and students. Part of the problem is that my instructors don’t know what to expect before they come to my retreat so they don’t really know how to tell their students. I think a repeat of this retreat would be more successful.

I would love to repeat it, but it’s a lot of staff expense to have 4 teachers. I would have to know enough dancers would pony up the money to come.  -Improvisational Tribal Style with Amy Sigil and Egyptian Dances & Music Interpretation with Dahlia.



Got some quality sun time today. Laid out by the pool. It’s a beautiful pool in the shape of a tee with palm trees and tropical flowered landscaping. It is so relaxing and tranquil. A statute of the reclining Buddha languishes on the lawn. A lovely Ganesha sits where the diving board used to be. The board wasn’t removed because of an accident.  Just insurance policies forced them to take it out. (Don’t you love America? Other countries don’t act like this.) There are statues all around the grounds. Tons of fruit trees as well. Red, yellow and  blue birds flit all around while doves coo.  At the pool there are 2 hot tubs, a dry sauna, and showers. We are right next to a massage studio and a watsu pool. It’s a clothing optional pool. Nice. Who wants tan lines? Things are very relaxed.

This fact reminded me the 2 times musician Jeremiah Sotto of Solace came to my retreats! A bit surprised by the clothing optional pool status. We assured him being naked was not mandatory and giggled. Again, things are very relaxed.

Dahlia is the perfect compliment to all this tribal intensity. Her “Improvisation – Be Here Now” class came to us like a soothing salve after so much specific technique. Our emotional bodies got a opportunity to be a bit cathartic inside our browning skin. Oh yes, we are getting brown. The rains come mostly at night or by day for short intervals between the warm caress of the sun. Gotta have the rain to have all this beautiful jungle. Perfect temperatures accompany all this action we are displaying!

Me? So far I taught Power Belly, energy balance, veil therapy,  2 moving meditations; Grounding and Centering and Hathor. Oh and I added a few performance notes to Dahlia’s class. I am getting the chance to relax and recharge my batteries. Much needed.

This really is a nice balance of movement and personalities! They, we, me, are loving it! Oh, I got a massage this morning. Much enjoyed, and I heard everyone making appointments this morning.



Letter #4

Aloha again

More Tribal and it’s feeling more and more like home inside our neuro pathways.

Yesterday we experienced some amazing rain at 11:30 AM. So loud, I had to literally yell to be heard when teaching a dance. Very difficult. It was like we all were captured in a bubble of air inside a waterfall. We could feel the water in our mouth as we inhaled. Our body temperatures created a sauna aura environment around us. It was extreme, fascinating and exciting, actually. Dahlia let out a loud cathartic and ecstatic scream that could barely be heard. Luckily it didn’t last too long.

This afternoon Dahlia taught a lovely Egyptian Choreography in the afternoon to part of an Om Kolthum piece with a veil. Nice. I especially like the “jewel step”.

At night there was a big Hula Class with Richard Koob and friends that the gals all went to in the Emax studio. I went straight to bed after dinner at 7:30 and passed out. They reported back the next day all a glow from the wonderful experience. There were live musicians because it was special for the Merrie Monarch Festival taking place on the island. It was the 40th year celebration.

Early in the morning (on Day Six), before breakfast, Bevin and I drove to this place down the road called Coconut Beach. We walked out across the lava fields talking, when I looked over my shoulders after 10 minutes, and to our surprise, on the hillside far away, but behind us and to the South, was a long smoke-filled fire line marking the edge of the lava flow. We had heard there wasn’t much going on that one could see. Most of the Volcano park was closed because of crater off gas activity. Wow, this was impressive. Then a few minutes later a local Hawaiian guy met us on the path and confirmed, “ yes.”  The lava action just got bigger. Still no flow into the sea – just surface flow on the ridge and in the caldera higher up. He asked us if he could share a traditional morning Hawaiian chant with us to greet the sun. “Sure.” It was very beautiful. Then we shared our grounding and centering ritual with him. When we got to the part that says “We open our heart,” he jumped down and picked up a perfect heart-shaped rock and placed it beneath the rising sun in the east. Magic!

Back to Kalani .

We had a talking circle a bit before class. Dahlia was feeling overwhelmed – experiencing the magic of the retreat process. It’s something that cannot be relayed to another person very well. When they experience it, there is this special “ah ha” knowingness. She said it’s a bit like the culture shock you get by leaving the country for the first time. She had traveled a lot before she had children, but this was the first big isolation from her kids and family that felt so far away. Not just in miles but inside /outside of time. It’s the quality of time being spent on something you love and the freedom from responsibilities. No one is doing dishes and picking anyone up from school. It’s a big open space in our lives to retreat. It will change our life and shift our perspective. Often people refer to their lives as “before the retreat,” and “after the retreat.” I have done it over and over, seen it unfold in so many dancers’ lives. The underlying theme to this time of year, Easter, is REBIRTH. Welcome to the club, Dahlia.

This morning’s class was on “Saidi Style” with Dahlia. She is so fluid in changing her style of movement. She really does have one of the best shimmies I have ever seen. It’s so even and precise.

After lunch we had free time before our performance night. We caravanned down the scenic road 20 minutes to a mild adventure to a place known as the Hot Pools. It’s the size of a municipal public pool. Nestled in a grove of palms in a beach front park. It’s a nice, large, clean pool made from masoned lava stones and cement. It has steps and hand rails for easy access, with a mostly sandy bottom. It’s no more than 5 1/2 deep at the deepest and protected from the high surf by a sea wall . It’s very relaxing and therapeutic to soak or just sit in the park and enjoy the scenery. Someone built it intending to create a spa center many decades ago. The bathtub warm water is fed by underground fresh water hot springs and mixes with the salt water ocean. Little fishes nibble at us a bit.

Show Time

We invited a yoga retreat and a few Kalani staff members to come to our little show in the Rainbow room.

The line up was ;

• Bevin . . . danced a wild, visceral fusion to a heavy metal Norwegian rock song.

• Cindy . . . did a piece called Rouge Infusion

• Dahlia . . . danced some stellar Egyptian to some Beledi and Shik Shak Shok

• Delilah and Erik. . .Ya Aziz Aini and a drum Solo

• TRIBAL GROUP DANCE . . .6 dancers and Amy did a stellar tribal improv that blew the audience away! Good job ladies! So proud of this weeks work. It looks like VDP STUDIO will be adding a new class to the schedule in the very near future!

• Carolyn . . . followed with a clever choice in music and a steam punkish kind of costume

• Bella Jovan . . . danced a lovely cabaret dance

• Amy Sigil . . . did a solo that was very slow and made out of American Sign language enhanced by deep emotional and movement interpretation. Very very moving. Then Dahlia joined her on stage and they did an “Unmata” style choreography together. Superb!

The audience loved it. Afterwards the dancers were giddy with themselves and insisted in continuing to practice their new found Tribal Improv dance with each other until the sound system had to be turned off so people could sleep.

This retreat was truly everything I had hoped it would be.

Today we review and some are leaving early this morning due to schedules. The retreat is officially over on Friday at 1:00PM. This afternoon and tomorrow morning are free to practice, relax, get some body work done, catch up on sleep, eat and return home rejuvenated.


Next Hawaii retreat is in the end of January.

Details soon!


March 26, 2010   ♦   Comments Off on March Dance Event; Part 5, POWER BELLY #35

March Dance Events:

Part 5.

Power Belly Show Episode 35

with H.O.T.  Princess Farhana and me.

Continuing along our chain of dance events.. . .

Monday we shot some clips with Princess Farhana for the Power Belly Show

extra tutorial parts . Then at 6:30 we co taught an episode together with live music

provided by H.O.T. They all wore their Tuxedos in honor of our 35th episodes of

work! The music is fantastic and this episode demonstrates why we call it a show!

It’s a fund raising episode.

BUY IT HERE PLEASE! . . .Should be up end of March.

We need a new camera if we are going to continue to make these episodes available to folks in estudio land.We are far from paying our bills each week.

We need some faithful subscribers!

Thank you all how came out to support so much this entire weekend!!

Wow wow wow! The stars were perfectly perched!

Thanks universe! Things are definitely clicking around here lately!

love you madly,


PS There is more coming on Tuesday we have Freya from Los Angeles doing a ritual Trance Dance workshop.

Then Dahlia, Erik Amy and I will all be in Hawaii for the top of April!

Still room left (I think) call me! 206 632-2353




March 7, 2010   ♦   Comments Off on Plain Jane’s Beneath a Veil

I ran across this yesterday and thought I’d post it on my blog.

Plain Jane’s Beneath a Veil

An Article By Delilah,  April 2009

We all have a certain number of relationships in our lives. On average, we have our parents and siblings, maybe a spouse or two, and a couple of kids. We have a handful of close friends we will know throughout our lifetimes; many acquaintances that come and go; maybe a couple of disgruntled neighbors over the years. It may seem like a lot of connections to maintain. However, when people become public figures, the number of those connections grows exponentially. They may have more close friends, they have many more acquaintances, and in addition they have thousands of folks who know something about them, but they don’t know them at all. What they do, say, and wear becomes dinner conversation for complete strangers across the world. Well-meaning people become emotionally demanding of their heroes. For the newly famous (or infamous, as the case may be), this takes getting used to. The public expects things from those they deem their demigods and -goddesses.

It takes a while before it dawns on you that you have become an icon instead of mere mortal. One day I was buzzing around the country on a string of airplanes and I realized there were probably folks in the airports who knew who I was…yet I didn’t know them. Then I realized there probably wasn’t a state in America where someone didn’t have one of my instructional DVD’s; then I realized that it was true for every city in America; and for every country in the world, since I’ve been producing them since 1985, selling my DVD’s internationally and they have been pirated in Mexico, Brazil, Chile, Russia, and China. I have inspired many women to belly dance, that’s for sure. The letters I receive are personal and heartfelt. Making those connections with other dancers are the true rewards of service and dedication to the art. I wouldn’t trade those encounters for the world. As I contemplated all this I guess it makes me feel a warm sense of pride.

I really am very social and love people. I care very much for the welfare of the human condition. I am passionate about turning women on to the art of belly dance because I think it’s rejuvenating at any age and can help change the world. Most belly dancers don’t think much about changing the world: they just dance. I work hard mixing altruistic ideals with my belly dance, and I am sincere and tireless in my messages. I am sure it confuses people because the people I touch are touched at such a distance there can be no real knowing. (I believe it is what inspires me to write more articles) .

However, just as much as the good, . . . the bad and the ugly raise their heads too. The percentages go up the more people you touch. Have one bad encounter and it hurts. Have two bad experiences and it hurts twice as much. That’s why famous folks shield themselves and wrap themselves in a veil of privacy. No one likes unpleasant encounters: celebrities, or the average Joe and Jane. When people’s expectations are shattered and they feel slighted, it’s painful, and when people react in turn with scorn and spite, it’s painful too. I hope this story sheds some light and understanding so we all can be kinder to our demigods and -goddesses and learn to get along more realistically as a global family.

First Story

I have a lot on my mind sometimes, because I wear a lot of hats. I’m a teacher, director, producer and promoter. One day, while I was busy juggling several of those hats, a gal dropped off a guest at my Hawaii retreat. She wanted to meet me, because I had been a large influence on her dance. I did not know this young woman, and to make matters worse, apparently a gift — a special veil she had made– had come my way through other hands, but sent by her, many years ago, and I simply could not recall it even after it was described to me later on. I don’t know if I ever even received it. It sounds just dreadful of me, doesn’t it? It made my heart hurt.

The young woman came up to me as I was trying to take care of some business and introduced herself. I said, “Hello, thank you for delivering my guest to the retreat,” and excused myself immediately to continue my business…and this young gal was devastated. The next day she emailed me and told me how she felt, and that she would never recommend any of my retreats or DVD’s ever again. Things got completely blown out of proportion. I felt very bad and I thought about her often over the next few months. I thought that I was just being human and so was she. Our ability to build our heroes into demigods is great: our persona lives different lives while our true consciousness lives only inside our own boots.

After some time had passed I contacted this person again and shared a shorter version of the following experience. We feel we are friends today.

Second Story

In 1977, I got the opportunity to be in a scene in the movie The China Syndrome, starring Michael Douglas, Jack Lemmon and Jane Fonda, because of my involvement in the development of the “Belly Gram” concept.

My friend Joshua Leeds owned “Live Wires”, the Singing Telegram Company. I worked for him for a while during the holiday season singing to folks over the phone. It was a fun and creative little enterprise he had going, with offices in San Francisco, Newport Beach, Los Angeles, and San Diego.

One day I was talking to Joshua and I ran the idea past him of doing a “Belly Gram”. He said, “I’m listening. How would you do it?”

Remember how in the movie Cleopatra, her faithful servant goes to Caesar’s palace and has a special message for Caesar’s ears and eyes only. Then he rolls Cleopatra out of a carpet at his feet. Well, similarly I would have my tall handsome drummer arrive. I would be concealed in a large red velvet bag. As the drummer announced our presence to the recipient of the Belly Gram and began to play, I would slither out of the bag and do a mesmerizing dance as the audience oohed and aahed. I had a small veil with the addressee’s name in glitter on it, which I would present to them as a token. Next we would do a short drum solo and we would end with a power shimmy, a pop and a mutual bow! Then he would throw me over his shoulder and quickly leave. That was the original Belly Gram. Joshua loved it and he started hiring dancers in all the offices. It actually opened the door for all sorts of short vignettes of performance to be delivered to door steps. A story I’ll save for another day…

This idea hit Hollywood by storm. It was the perfect gift for the rich and famous who already had everything. Movie producers, actors, rock stars and millionaires were all passing Live Wire messages back and forth. Thus it got written into the script of The China Syndrome to have Live Wires in the movie as one of the fluffy stories that Jane Fonda, in her role as a human-interest reporter, would cover in the film.

I auditioned for the part with fifty different acts, and was chosen to appear in the film, complete with my signature gift of a glitter-embellished veil. While they were appreciated by the recipients, those veils were becoming a pain in the ass for me to make all the time (I have terrible handwriting). The film company asked me to make one with the TV Station Channel call letters on it. I felt somewhat out of my department for something like that. For a belly gram it’s okay, but for the film? I thought they should have their prop department make it. I painstakingly did it anyway.

When I arrived at the location, Jane Fonda was in the elevator with me. I noted how she was so small and skinny. I shook her tiny, frail hand in amazement. She barely acknowledged me. I felt a bit snubbed but was still in awe. Her hairdresser was tagging alongside her, combing and spaying her hair.

I was preparing for the scene, so I got out the stupid veil and tried to present it to the director and stage manager. Suddenly, Jane stepped towards me, looked me straight in the face and curtly said, “That won’t be necessary, dear.” My feelings got so hurt. I was shaken and frustrated that I was even in the position to have to present that stupid veil at all. I fought back a tear or two right before I had to do the scene. I was crushed. For many years, every time her name came up I probably made a derogatory comment, spurred by my brief yet painful memory. I held it against Jane Fonda for years.

For years, that is, until I was in her shoes (sorry Jane, I truly forgive you). She simply had a lot on her mind. That was all there was to it. She had lines, blocking, makeup to do . . . she didn’t walk around with a scepter thinking she was a goddess to everyone she meets any more than I do. Like Ms. Fonda, we are all each just plain Janes in the everyday roles of our lives. We have no control of our roles and personalities as they are projected into other folks’ lives. Our admiration deifies people and puts them on pedestals, but we are shocked when they don’t abide by the confines of those pedestals, or fulfill our expectations. We might even feel superior to our mentors that inspired us and led us up the road to greatness. This can lead us to act with jealousy, and spears of rivalry if it is not in check.. It’s so sad when the cord is cut, and so happy when that cut can be healed.

End Note:

In telling this tale I personally gleaned good insight. I told it so others might too. However when I look at the entirety of the 2 stories. The gal in Hawaii had tied to give me a veil. I had a veil for the movie scene. Both went unappreciated until this story made me contemplate the power behind veiling which is related to celebrity.

While the veil gets a bad wrap when it seems forced upon a woman. However, there is a power in the veil that should be known by every woman. To veil is to empower that which is within. We empower or imbue with mystical insights from behind the veil. We veil bread so it will rise, we veil alters and sacred objects, women veil for anonymity and as a signal for much needed privacy. Personally I am an open book. Perhaps this story is trying to tell me I need to be more private. Or perhaps by writing, I metaphorically wore these veils , went with in, found deep insight and was empowered to share it with you.. I love this universe!

More Notes

The award winning movie was released in 1979. It’s working title was “Power”. It’s about a nuclear power plant accident. It was released right before Three Mile Island incident. There were articles in the cult new papers on how all the players were drawn together by a psychic forces. Jane Fonda went on to make exercise videos and Delilah made belly dance videos. Jane and Delilah are both fellow Capricorns. The veil incident in the story also holds symbolic resonance because the girl at the retreat was also a veil maker. The gift in question was a veil. The belly gram prop was a veil made by Delilah.

Fact is stranger than fiction.

February 11, 2010   ♦   Comments Off on PART ONE: Dancing Journey; Retreat January 2010


Dancing Journey with the Neighborhood Temple Priestesses;

Retreat January 2010

8 days 7 nights

I have been home since Feb 2nd and my suit case is still not unpacked. Soon as I came home I had 3 crazy cats to attend to. Bevin was looking after them while we were gone but they were not very happy to have us gone for 10 days. Kinko camped out in our bedroom for the time we were gone only coming down for duties. She would not purr for the first hour we were home. Tiamat was her usual evasive self and I could tell she slept on the living room couch. Sophie stayed in the kitchen the whole time on a pillow. I have a stack of mail and phone messages to deal with and a ton of e mail of course. Now my butt hurts from too much sitting at the computer. It’s tax time and so book keeping to do now. I have been trying to write a blog entry since before Hawaii . I thought I would even write from there. Usually I have lots to say and write but this retreat has kind of blown me away a bit. Yikes, I have no editor either. Please so for give any typos.

First of all I imagine you might want to know what the Neighborhood Temple Priestess are? Well it’s a committed bunch of dancers with a little bit different focus than other groups. Yes, we feel belly dance empowers our life but not only. It also empowers the lives of our family and greater community if we know how. The way of how is what I teach and mentor. If what we are doing is different then it means what you know already is not it, so keep an open mind and let the difference in. An important part of the NTP is being able to think out of the box, be a leader, strive to be a good dancer, an artist and a Temple Priestess.

Story begins:

We should have called this retreat Belly Dancing Journey through Inner and Outer space for that is what we managed to do. I know that any of these words cannot adequately describe or substitute the actual experience. Hopefully that is what these experiences do over all. They serve to remind people that life is for living not just twittering tweetering about.

In Hawaii we stayed in a room they call the Tree House. It’s not really a tree house but it’s their deluxe rustic accommodation. We loved it! The entry was in the west and the east side was completely glass and screens open to a lush meadow that hugged the country road an acer a way. We got to witness the rising sun and sleep to the sound of the ocean surf. Fuchsia bougainvillea an occasional orchid and lush green tangle of jungle vines framed our view. In the center of the room was a vertical post that supported a 14 foot high ceiling that sloped toward 3 separate alcove rooms. Around the center post was a rectangular tiles table and a lamp in front of that facing the view was a wicker couch and a divan and a kitschy floor lamp that was in the shape of a palm tree. We had a refrigerator, microwave and a coffee pot with coffee and milk in the frig. The bathroom was spacious with lots of staging area for changing clothes, make up and  toiletries. Wow I could live here for a while!

I did try to post a blog entry while I was in Hawaii but the retreat was so rich and my mind got so expanded it couldn’t find it’s way into the lap top key pad. Words would fall helter skelter out of my head but they kept running across the the table to play with the with the Geckos that lived on the table post. Geckos are suppose to bring good luck. There is a belief that when one is heard making their long sustained clicking noise, then what ever has been spoken last in the vicinity is to be known as the honest truth. We had many geckos living with us. They keep the mosquitoes down, so they make good room mates. We had a boy and a girl who lived behind the bathroom mirror and would catch bugs attracted to the light. We had the one who lived on the table post where another lamp kept the bug supply coming. Then we had the prankster gecko who would hang his little back legs and tale off the edge of a crack in a board in the ceiling and poop! It was so funny to see. “Hey you?” we would yell and laugh. Luckily it was over the floor and not our bed or heads. House keeping in the jungle is a daily task needless to say. Kalani are experts at it (no worries.) In the jungle you can expect to find bugs, mongoose, wild boar, goats, rats, cats, giant snails, wild turkeys, beautiful birds of all colors, a few dogs. . . We saw all of them. In the water you can see dolphin, sail fish, hump back whales, sea turtles, millions of fish and coral. We saw some of them too even though we didn’t go snorkeling this trip.

Ok so how was the retreat?

Well one should know first that every retreat we do has it’s own theme and schedule of classes and guest instructors, musicians and events. This one was on Neighborhood Temple Priestess Training retreat. The goal was to dance and sweat so we got a good dose of exercise but then diverge into the more esoteric, artsy, touchy, feely realm of belly dance that has been cultivated by the visionary belly dance water mark. These are teachings that are not ordinary fare in my classes and retreat but are very dear to my heart. We delved into our minds, our hearts and our humanity as dancers.

This retreat was small. This means of course that those that signed up for this retreat get a lot of individual undivided attention from me, Erik, and  Laura Rose. We get to know the members of our retreat  very up close and personal. I can even write about them individually with out it becoming a huge book.

Jane was brand new to belly dance, who had some health issues and was going to approch things slowly and as she felt comfortable each day. She also brought her Mother whose name was Dola. She had recently recovered from a bout with cancer. They were sharing some good Mother /Daughter time together. The thing about Jane was she was very knowledgeable about the the feminine jungian psychology aspects and the ritual and other things we were going to explore on this retreat. It’s what attracted her. She ha been watching the retreats come and go on line for years and finally decided it was time! She was good natured and enthusiastic to try most anything.

Malina was from Japan. She didn’t speak a lot of English but she had a little machine translator thingy. She missed some of the wordy explanations but she felt everything deeply. One of her teachers is the amazing Mishaal from Japan. I love Mishaal. Everyone loves Mishaal. I knew if Mishaal was sending her, she would love this retreat and that even with language barrier. Malina would be well seasoned.

Alexandra is from Seattle via Canada. She is a new member the Neighborhood Temple Priestess group in Seattle. She comes when she can but she needed to know more about belly dance as well as the under pinning of what holds the NTP together. This retreat was an opportunity to go catch her up on a lot of the work and an opportunity for us all to get to know her better. She packed light. She just found out she was pregnant and so thats about all she could think about . The homework things like reading certain books, making a sea faring costumes would have to be done some other time. She would come and be as present as possible.

Lori Green was a last minute sign up. She is also a member of the NTP in Seattle. It was her birthday during our retreat. In addition to being a celebration of life, this retreat was a very transformational experience for her. The retreat was a chance to stop the clock and contemplate deep issues in her life. All retreats have that aspect for guests and participants alike. Depending on what’s going on in our lives they register differently on the Richter scale! We got to know and witness Lori’s deep work.

Verna AKA Eden Nadirah, came to last years retreat as well and was my a measuring rod to the reality that each retreat is so different. She came from frigid temperatures and loads of snow to the beauty of the rich green and passionate island. She felt comfortable with me, Erik and Laura Rose and we all carry an affection for her amazing hips!

Wayne AKA Assiyah is an acupuncturist. He’s been belly dancing for 4 or 5 years now. He loves that he can do something that most men don’t know how to do. It makes him feel unique and he gets to hang out with women he announced proudly. He says to his male friends. You just don’t get what I know. Wayne is a very special person. He has come to 3 of my retreats and we see marked improvement each year. he is a very genuine and sensitive person great for the Temple Priestess movement. The Kalani staff loved seeing him come back each year and love watching him in our performance nights. Funny; Wayne has an identical twin brother we would love to meet sometime!

Christine and John are an amazing couple. Christine is my right arm in planning and brain storming NTP events. John helps out in so many ways with the NTP events  but her likes to be kind of anonymous. When it came to introductions I asked John if he wanted to tell us about himself and he said. “How long have you known me Delilah? Have I ever told you about my self? Well I’m not going to start today.” and thats totally all right with me, I’m just glad John came. Christine is an amazing artist and waters run deep. She makes many of the banners for our events and activities. She is very well read, a wealth of information and inspiration. She has amazing music collection and I rely on her tastes and choosing of music for many of our activities. She does not spend time on e mail, watching TV or dealing with cell phones. I admire that. She lives life fuller than most people and she reminds me by her beingness that there is a way to resist all this electronic culture. However batteries come in handy. Christine offered to bring her electric candles and build a labyrinth on the grounds of the retreat and if I got tired she would love to teach a class she was into practicing all about fire and smoke being an influential element in our dance.  I said wonderful I’ll build it into our revised schedule. Since the schedule was arranged to work with the usual 30 participants with performance time, I think we will have some extra time available.

Laura Rose of course is staff but I was secretly very pleased that I could bring her to this particular retreat. She has been involved in a few NTP things this past year but she is a very in demand performer in Seattle and has lots of rehearsals and shows that keep her busy. I sent her home one day around the winter holidays with my copy of the book, “Goddesses in Every Women” and said I know you read this book years ago, but read it again for inspiration. She read some of it and continued at the retreat. She related partly to Artemis and made her sea faring costume a sea version of Artemis. Laura Rose would get up early each morning and run 5 miles . She had her own room and was not used to staying alone. She read about the virginal Goddesses that Hestia, Athena and Artemis. “What do you think Mom?” She asked me.  “I think there is a healthy dose of Persephone and Aphrodite in you as well my dear, but when I see you Mother your troupe members, friends, students, boy friend and burning man family I see Demeter and once in a while even Hera. We use all these archetypes at different times and seasons of our lives dear daughter.” Laura Rose got a lot of personal growth inspiration out of this retreat. This makes me very happy because while all the glitz and performance art is a skill and vocation, DANCE has another influence in our lives that has nothing to do with performance. It’s about praising the sacred, self exploration and giving thanks for being alive. This is the work of the Neighborhood Temple Priestess (NTP). She got to become very close to Christine and really responded to the exercises she taught. This made me very happy.

Erik Brown is my mate and our music man. He brought his chimbus and his base guitar as well as drums and played his POWER BELLY music. He also used his computers to be our DJ and create music sound scapes for our poetry and guided meditation dances. On this retreat he taught frame drums primarily instead of dumbeks and it was a pleasant change. We walked the garden playing drums. In the end the students all accompanied Erik playing frame drum for my final performance!

The courses we planned were sticky. They fit perfectly together. One lead to the next in the most amazing ways. It was a journey we took together of inner awakening.

We began with a social orientation and Power Belly to get the blood flowing and review and see how we all fit together and what our physical dance needs were. The next day I taught my circle dance choreographies and we turned them into duet dances and added spins. We left open time for beach sun and pool or massages and naps and came back in the late afternoon to talk about NTP pride focus and history. Malina from Japan had a hard time following but Laura Rose sat by her and tried to explain. I’m sure some of the words she heard took her by surprised in a belly dance class. Things about women’s rights, empowerment, the effect on our dance by the events of  9/11, community resources, activism, political art, sexism, exploitation belly dance history, women’s culture. A bit of a montage of subjects. OMG I can imagine how this could get scrambled but she kept seeing my face and eyes and knowing my passion for the beauty and truth that some how she gets it. I know her teacher in Japan well and she can straighten anything out. Why would these subjects have any place in a belly dance class you might wonder? Well, because I am not a simple belly dancer. I think deeply and look at the world around us as it influences the cosmic unconscious of our dance culture. I think belly dance is especially an interesting meter to read in relationship to the psyche of women. How our belly dance styles have evolved in the past 40 years in relationship to our social environment should be looked at.  An blog article in the future no doubt. I feel belly dance empowered my life? Do you? Why do you want to belly dance? Is it just for exercise? Women have been belly dancing in America for 3 powerful generations. Just for exercise? No, not exactly.

We prepared a student note book to hand out to everyone but I can’t write the whole week down so I have another set of my own teachers notes. I gave them to Malina at the end of the retreat so she could study more.

Everyday we had time to relax, sun bath, go to the beach, hot pools or take a nap. We had a drum class before dinner. This helped to steady the pace of our journey together I think. The second night we set up a shadow screen and everyone brought poetry. We did improve dances to poetry and drum in front of and behind the screen. We traded off reading the poems. Everyone was very enthusiastic and it was a good class. We were energetic, comfortable and well oiled. What I mean is everyone seemed able to be very self expressive. I taught them how to deliver my famous veil blessings AKA Veil Therapy as well this night. I explained we could do this at any point during the retreat for each other. The veils would be here in the rainbow room studio.

The next morning we met at the view point, just across the road from Kalani. We did our grounding and centering movement ritual. We gathered the energies into our hearts and sent our love out to dancers all over the planet. The sun rose into the majesty of grand clouds on the horizon. The air was warm the breeze gentle and the waves caressed the rocky island belt line of Pele’s hips.

It was day three and now time to introduce the power of the dance expressed through eyes, arms, hands and heart. We opened up the acute awareness of our body and how it is viewed in space. How does our body feel in the space of the room, world, planet and how does the space inside us feel? What impression do we bring to space as we move into what we know as dance? How do we move in relationship to each other. Can we turn up the volume to our empathetic sensitivity toward each other? We practiced many awareness exercises. beautiful morning.

We left time open in the heat of the day and came back for a hot hips class and drum in the later day. Then dinner on the dinning lanai with a glass of wine or two.

On this night we had a rather eclectic mid week performance night that the staff at Kalani all were rearing to come and be entertained. Well, this a was loose based evening since we were a small group there were no time constraints on performing really.(nice for a change). Basically we wanted to demonstrate aspects of how we incorporate belly dance into rites of passage celebrations in community NTP style; baby showers, weddings, blessings, wakes. . . . As well as share our deep artistic inspirations in engaging performance art. So we asked the Kalani staff to participate in a ritual with us. We asked each member to stand in a circle and one by one recite their lineage on their mothers side as we had our pregnant participant in the seat of honor. I began;  I am Delilah mother of Laura Rose and Victoria, I am daughter of Marilyn who is daughter of Berty who is Daughter of Lucy who is daughter of Marie. As each member adds the names of the women who came before them we the  space begins to fill up with the presence of all the ancestral women / Mothers who have come before us to make our life possible. With this comes a powerful presence. Usually this ritual is done with mostly women but here there were alot of men in the audience. Interesting was the note that most men did not know who their Great Grand mothers names were. Hmmmm? Lori noted it and decided when she got home she was going to make sure her teen age son knew these names in her family.

We dressed up Laura Rose as a bride and pampered and washed her feet. It’s actually a humbling ritual. It’s very caring and brings people together in a special way. I danced to a Nubian folk song called 2000 Blessings fro your wedding day. Next we introduced the concept of taste and scents as muse for dances. Before each solo we fed the audience chocolate, ginger and exotic fragrances. Christine did a very exotic candle dance in complete darkness and Laura Rose  did a concept dance of experiencing raw savage stress and it being cured by the soothing relief of camomile. Lori and Malina danced solos with heavenly scents and I did the chocolate dance. It was a very eclectic show.

Continued in Part Two

or see April 2-9 2010 retreat details!

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